The homeless see a chance to avenge themselves these general elections with the election commission offering the None of The Above (NOTA) option to voters.
The hutments of the entire colony in Sector 52 are painted with slogans that say: "Ghar nahi to, vote nahi. Sabse neeche wala button dabaynge...(If you can’t provide house, don't expect vote from us. We will press the NOTA button).”
These hutments are occupied by the people who were rendered homeless after last year’s demolition drive by the UT administration. Now, these people are giving a tough time to candidates across the political spectrum, who are coming to seek their votes.
Significantly, if the NOTA option gets the highest votes as compared to the candidates, the elections get nullified and a fresh poll would be held.
There is history to this sudden attraction towards NOTA. In November last year, in one of the biggest demolition drives in Chandigarh’s history, Colony Number 5 was demolished.
Rough estimates suggested that around 20,000 people were left homeless.
Following the demolition, around 250 homeless families were shifted to fibre sheds in Sector 52. There were around 1,700 sheds in the area, of which around 1,500 were lying vacant.
Around 1,500 families moved to these sheds and now each shed is occupied. These families were led by Chandigarh-based group Ghar Adhikaar Sangharsh Morcha. The group came into existence only after the demolition.
On Sunday, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati’s rally failed to get any supporters from this colony.
“Earlier, trucks filled with people would accompany such rallies, but people are now disillusioned with all parties, so they refused to attend the rally,” said Nishar Ahmad, a shopkeeper whose shop and house was demolished in the drive and is now one of the main leaders of Ghar Bachaao Morcha.
On Monday, Congress candidate Pawan Kumar Bansal came to the colony asking people to vote, but the people reminded him the betrayal by his party when their houses were being demolished. People asked a number of questions to Bansal, to which he seemed to be answerless.
The colony has been often considered as a big vote bank of both the Congress and BS.